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Devils Offense Buries Panthers, 5-2, To Continue Streak

Even Scott Clemmensen couldn't shut down the suddenly hot New Jersey Devils (16-29-3).

Clemmensen, undefeated against the Devils, was relegated to the bench after one period as New Jersey defeated the Florida Panthers, 5-2, today at the Prudential Center.

The win gives the Devils four in a row. It's their longest win streak since a five-game run from Dec. 12-21, 2009. 

The Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period to knock out Clemmensen.

Ilya Kovalchuk opened the scoring at 4:20 of the opening period. Travis Zajac fed Andy Greene the puck for a shot from the point. Kovalchuk deflected the puck off the left post and past Clemmensen for his 14th goal of the season.

Jason Arnott extended it to 2-0 with 32 seconds left in the period. Clemmensen made a pad save on Mark Fayne's point shot, but left a rebound near his crease. Arnott roofed the puck with a backhand shot for his 11th goal of the season.

After allowing the two goals on eight shots, Panthers coach Peter DeBoar replaced Clemmensen with rookie Jacob Markstrom. The change shook the Panthers, who dominated the Devils during the early part of the second period.

Florida's hard work paid off as they pulled within one at 7:22 of the second period.

Corey Stillman skated the puck into the Devils zone and fed Shawn Matthias, who cut to the slot. His wrist shot beat Martin Brodeur to the glove side for his sixth goal of the season.

The Devils offense, however, would give Markstrom a rude welcome to the NHL.

Brian Rolston extended the lead to 3-1 with a powerplay tally at 12:48 of the second period. Clarkson cycled the puck to the point, where Kovalchuk received the puck and sent it cross-ice to Rolston. The Devils' left-winger fired a point shot over Markstrom's shoulder for his fifth goal of the season.

Devils' head coach Jacques Lemaire believed that killed Florida's momentum.

"I think that's what saved us," Lemaire told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "It was ugly and then Rollie got a shot, scored. That gave us a lift or killed them a little bit, wounded."

Patrik Elias pushed the lead to 4-1 at 17:19 with the team's second powerplay goal. Elias came out of the corner and fired the puck between Markstrom's pads for his 13th goal of the season.

Marty Reasoner kept things interesting, cutting the deficit to 4-2 at 5:56 of the third period. Stillman fired a shot from the point that Brodeur stopped, but left a rebound near the net. Reasoner took the puck and put it past Brodeur for his 10th goal of the season.

Arnott iced the win with his second goal at 18:13 of the period. The Devils' center fired a puck from the point into an open net for his second goal of the game.

Despite winning their fourth game in a row, Lemaire wasn't happy with his team's performance.

"Let me search," he said to Gulitti. "That's a tough question. Let's say I didn't have a good feel for a lot of stuff. Maybe the good thing was in the third we played pretty good at a time there. It seemed like we were coming back to play our game."

The players, however, were pleased with their performance.

"It feels good to win and you can tell we played with a lot of confidence," Kovalchuk said to Gulitti. "We know what we're going to be doing and even though they scored that first goal, 2-1, we kept doing our job and created a couple of power plays and scored on them."

Game Notes:

Since moving to a line with Elias, Rolston has nine points (three goals, six assists)...Tomas Vokoun, who has an upper body injury, missed the game and will be evaluated in NYC tomorrow..Alexander Vasyunov was recalled on an emergency basis today and played for the Devils.